It wouldn’t be fall without our annual pilgrimage to Ohiopyle State Park. Dense canopies of rhododendron and mountain laurel, unique rock formations and madly rushing white water lure us back year after year.
On a quick visit, Ohiopyle Falls are best observed from the safety and comfort of the observation decks.
A short hike on the Ferncliff Peninsula offers visitors the chance to see the falls from a different angle.
An easy 1.7 mile loop, the Ferncliff Trail circles through the 100-acre Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area.
A National Natural Landmark, the Ferncliff Peninsula is a Pennsylvania abnormality. Unlike most rivers, the Youghiogheny flows south to north, carrying and depositing seeds that normally wouldn’t grow in Pennsylvania. Since the peninsula maintains a warmer temperature than the surrounding area, the seeds are allowed to germinate. This unique environment allows Southern wildflowers and umbrella magnolias to thrive.
Here one can find fossils of lepidodendron, an ancestor of club moss, at least 300 million years old. These tree fossils embedded in rock give evidence that Pennsylvania’s climate was once tropical.
The scenery along the Ferncliff Trail is lush, with bright sunlight streaming through the trees, emphasizing their magnificent arrays of color. As the trail hugs the Youghiogheny’s edge, the water is high and the rushing sound is loud.
A series of flat sandstone boulders offer an intimate vantage point of Ohiopyle Falls.
The trail eventually winds away from the river and deeper into the forest.
River access is only a short scramble away. If you’re lucky, you might spot a kayak braving the rapids.
The final stretch of the hike passes under the Ohiopyle High Bridge. Be sure to check out the view from above!
Although we look forward to exploring new terrain, we can’t resist the urge to revisit our favorite places.
The 3 mile Meadow Run Trail showcases some of the park’s best scenery. The path is darkened by towering rhododendron, huge rock formations and a roaring stream.
Despite heavy rain, the Cascades on Meadow Run are often disappointingly dry.
Thousands of years of erosion have helped to carve two natural waterslides in Meadow Run.
Cucumber Falls was rich in color, albeit with a lower water volume than our last visit.
Before leaving the park, we stopped at the Baughman Rock and Sugarloaf Knob overlooks.
Baughman Rock offers a spectacular overlook of the Youghiogheny River Gorge.
Unfortunately, we discovered that the Sugarloaf Knob overlook was obstructed by the rays of the late afternoon sun.
To read more about our adventures in Ohiopyle State Park visit these links: